Synthetic Self-Limiting Structures Engineered with Defective Colloidal Clusters

N Parvez and MB Zanjani, ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS, 30, 2003317 (2020).

DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202003317

One of the key challenges in the study of self-assembly with synthetic particles is how to build finite-sized constructs that resemble self- limiting structures such as well-known proteins and biomolecules found in nature. Inspired by this concept, a novel method for realizing self- limiting self-assembly of colloidal clusters by establishing design rules to obtain desired final structures using a bottom-up assembly approach is presented. The constructs identified in this work will be "locked" in a well-defined configuration as the structure morphologies will not allow them to grow any further. The approach presented here provides two distinct advantages. First, the self-limiting characteristics of the resulting constructs are preserved no matter how many building blocks are present within the system. Second, the setup of interparticle interactions reflected by interaction matrices are much simpler compared to finite-sized structures of simple spherical particles which may require engineering pairwise interactions between as many particle types as the number of particles present in the system. The self-assembly process as well as phase transformation and kinetics of several intriguing finite-sized configurations are studied. Possible extensions of this concept to produce sophisticated multi-phased structures where different types of finite-sized and large assemblies may be present at once are also discussed.

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